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Books I’ve Finally Finished in January

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This is a test run of a new method to record/review the books I’ve read. It’s titled “Finally Finished” because I have a bad habit of setting down a book and not picking it up for months. 

The current plan is to give a line or two of my thoughts on the book and a favorite quote. Of the five books I finished in January, four are audio books and two are rereads. I’ve been listening to a LOT more audiobooks lately because I don’t feel guilty about reading for pleasure if I can also scrub toilets or run errands while doing it. I’ve been trying to do better about carving out time for personal reading as well, and I’m making some progress. Part of the problem is that I have seven or eight books I’m reading at one time, but I usually only listen to one audiobook at a time, not including what I’m listening to with the kids. If I would stick to one book, I’d probably get through it quicker. Maybe I’ll try that next month.

Ahem. The January books!

Books I've finished in January. I was heavy on the audiobooks this month. I need to finish some of the books in my physical stack.
This is my bullet journal set-up for keeping a record of my books this year. Between the journal and the blog, I may actually have a decent account of my reading life!

The first book I listened to was Manage Your Day-To-DayI got the Kindle version/Audible combo on sale dirt cheap. It’s a short book and the narrators speak rather slowly, so I sped it up to 1.25 speed and got through it pretty quickly. It is a collection of “thought-leaders” sharing advice on managing and decluttering your schedule. I think it would be particularly useful for creative types who tend to get bogged down in the uncreative aspects of their work and live, leaving the creative efforts neglected. Side note, “thought-leader” is a silly term.

My favorite quote from the book:

“The twentieth-century mystic Thomas Merton wrote, ‘There can be an intense egoism in following everybody else. People are in a hurry to magnify themselves by imitating what is popular — and too lazy to think of anything better. Hurry ruins saints as well as artists. They want quick success, and they are in such a haste to get it that they cannot take time to be true to themselves. And when the madness is upon them, they argue that their very haste is a species of integrity.’”

Another quote in the book from Marshall McLuhan, “We shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us.” The book is well worth the two or three hours to listen, and it would take even less time to read.

The second book I listened to was Steve Martin’s autobiography, Born Standing Up. The book focuses on his stand-up career, but it also includes parts of his childhood. Martin is one of the most talented people of the 20th century, and I’ll cut anyone who says otherwise. (Kidding! Probably.) But he is very talented and delightfully weird, and he shares an intimate and often touching look of a specific time of his life. If you’re a Steve Martin fan or a creator wondering how the great get great, this book is well worth your time. I definitely recommend the audio version narrated by Martin.

My favorite quote from the book:
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“It was easy to be great.  Every entertainer has a night when everything is clicking. These nights are accidental and statistical. Like lucky cards in poker, you can count on them occurring over time. What was hard was to be good — consistently good — night after night, no matter what the abominable circumstances. Performing in so many varied situations made every predicament manageable.”

The third book I listened to was Pride and Prejudice, which is a reread. Or rather a re-re-re-reread. Honestly, I have no idea how many times I’ve read this book. Jane Austen is brilliant and should be read as often as possible. This particular re-read was because I’m catching up on Close Reads, a book club podcast from the Circe Institute.  Reading along with the book club made me see the book in an entirely different light. (They’re doing Murder Must Advertise right now, which means it’s another re-re-re-re-read. Re. Dorothy Sayers is one of my all-time favorite authors and this book is probably in my top 5 of her books. I lurve her.)

It’s hard to pick a favorite line from this Pride and Prejudice because they’re all brilliant. So consider this one jewel among many I could have chosen. It’s my favorite quote at this moment; I’ll have another one in an hour.

“I should like balls infinitely better,” she replied, “if they were carried on in a different manner; but there is something insufferably tedious in the usual process of such a meeting. It would surely be much more rational if conversation instead of dancing were made the order of the day.”

“Much more rational, my dear Caroline, I dare say, but it would not be near so much like a ball.”

If you purchase the Kindle version of the book — even the free version, which I guess is more acquiring than purchasing — you can get certain Audible versions cheap. The version I listened to is narrated by Carolyn Seymour and is pretty good.

The fourth and final audiobook on the list is another re-re-re-re-re-read, Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold by C.S. Lewis. Lewis is my favorite author and this and That Hideous Strength take turns being my favorite book. I happened to pick up the audiobook on sale a couple of years ago and decided to read it when I was perusing my library looking for something new to listen to. I binge-listened and finished it in a little more than a day. Nadia May narrates it, and she does a fabulous job.

This book doesn’t have “favorite quotes” so much as “deep truths that penetrate and make you rethink everything.” So here is the quote from which the title of the book is taken. It’s nice and chewy.

“When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the center of your soul for years, which you have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you’ll not talk about the joy of words. I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?”

FINALLY, I did actually finish a printed book, The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful. This was a Kindle deal and recommended by Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy. I’m really glad I picked it up AND read it (which doesn’t always happen with Kindle deals.) I’m somewhat decorating challenged and more than a little intimidated by the process. The author Myquillyn Smith gives practical tips and encouragement. Just a note: if you don’t have an iPad or Kindle Fire or other device that lets you see color images, you may consider getting the physical copy. The book is full of pictures that definitely add to the experience. You can find used copies for less than $5.

I highlighted a lot of quotes in this book, but these two are currently fighting for first place.

“If we cannot be our true selves and make mistakes in our homes, how can we expect others to let their guard down while they are in our homes.”

“It’s less about doing the ‘right’ thing and more about creating a home that works for your family right now, a home that fulfills its purpose in this season.”

So that’s what I finished reading in January. What have you read lately?

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